Expert Advice We Can Never Hear Too Often
Even the seemingly best-behaved and submissive dogs can surprise their owners at times, and the surprise is not always welcome. This is the case with unexpected aggression. My son is home from college for the summer, and my normally quiet, uneventful home is temporarily turned into a summertime beach retreat for young adults stopping by to borrow a surfboard or looking for a turkey sandwich. Friends know they are welcome, and sometimes just walk in unannounced, which was fine. In the past.
Since last November, we have acquired two Saint Bernards, in addition to our 10-year-old aussie mix. They have had to acclimate to my son coming home on occasional weekends, and now, during summer, anywhere from 1 to 15 kids stopping over to visit daily. The dogs have done relatively well, and I’ve somewhat managed to shield them from the stress, but this week, Sunny Saint Beni had enough. Jack, a very nice, polite, 19-year-old has been the target of Beni’s irritation and aggressive barking. Not just once, but three times. We know now this should have been nipped in the bud. Behavior: unacceptable. This should have happened only once, but, alas, I am the de facto dog trainer in this house, and, not home to correct the behavior, no one else dealt with the situation immediately. Bad move.
I’ve read that this form of aggression can be the dog trying to assert his place and prominence on the family totem pole. We’ve all heard about the “packleader,” and how the rest of the family, including dogs, have their spot in the pecking order. This is so true. If you want harmony and balance in your family with the dog, and to avoid a potentially dangerous situation, you must heed the experts’ advice.
I recommend an article, “My Dog is Dog Aggressive. What Can I Do About This Aggression?” by Ed Frawley. Mr. Frawley says one of the major reasons for aggression is “rank drive” within the dog pack. It gave me a lot to think about, in terms of how I rate as the packleader, and learning how to “read” my dog. He says this natural instinct is extremely powerful, and affects how the dog interacts within the family structure. If the dog is aggressive toward a particular person, that dog should never be left alone in the home with that person, and should always be on a leash, even in the home. This is so the packleader is able to make an immediate correction, and let the dog know, that, under no circumstances, is aggression to be tolerated. This is a must for any household with smaller children as well.
It’s not easy knowing that my front door can’t be the always-revolving door as in the past, but I now have the know-how to deal with it. I thought I knew a lot about dogs, but I realize I’m still learning every day. Time to share this information with the rest of the family.
As always, Sunny Saints would love to hear your thoughts.